It’s summer — and it’s the summer before your biggest school year! Our college admission pros have put together their best advice to help rising seniors prepare for this important time in your journey. College visits, applications, essays, and scholarship competitions are here, and we want you to make the most of ALL of it! We’ve been through this a time or two, so read on and get ready for the adventure that awaits.
Apply for outside scholarships now! While every student who comes to Capital receives a Presidential scholarship, one of the best ways to lower your potential cost is to apply for as many outside scholarships as you possibly can. Not only are outside scholarships free, but they also are often stackable (there’s no limit to how much you can earn) and they can be used at almost any college you might end up attending. With such a great opportunity, though, some scholarships tend go fast. That’s why it’s important to take time in the summer to find which scholarships you’re going to apply for, make note of their requirements and deadlines, and complete as many as possible before your school year begins. Reach out to your guidance counselor, have your parents or guardians check with their employer’s HR department, or simply look online for opportunities. Outside scholarships can make all the difference!
Keep an open mind. College is an exciting time, not only because you will gain a new level of independence, but also because you’ll be exposed to all sorts of new ideas and opportunities. Embrace them! Part of what makes the college experience so unique is that it’s a time in your life where you can truly challenge yourself in meaningful, long-lasting ways. Keep that in mind when looking at schools. The concept of “fit” is important, but it’s not just about a college’s similarities to who you are right now. It’s about finding a college where you feel comfortable being your true self, and one that will also push you to be the best version of yourself that you possibly can be. So, keep an open mind and embrace the challenge!
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One size does not fit all. Explore your options. Despite what some say, colleges and universities are NOT all the same, and they offer very different educational experiences. Capital wants you to bring all of your original self to our community. Start visiting colleges now. Make sure to visit all kinds – small, large, urban, rural, liberal arts, comprehensive, private, public, and one you’ve never heard of before! You never know where you’ll find your fit. (But we hope it’s here.)
When it comes to fit, trust your gut. Reputation and rankings aside, the “best” college may not be the best college for you if it’s not a good fit. You’ll know a good fit when you feel it. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re on campus. If you’re not sure the first time, visit again. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it’s just, “What do students do on the weekends?”
Keep your options open. It’s the dreaded question at every family gathering: What are you going to major in? There are A LOT of majors out there, and like me, you might not know what they all are. Do some digging – don’t just stop at doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse. There are so many other fields out in the world. And in many cases, your major is not what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. So, don’t be afraid to explore.
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Streamline communications. Many colleges and universities will be communicating with you throughout the next year. As you identify the pool of schools you’re interested in learning more about, it will be important for those schools to know you’re as interested in them as they are in you. To make sure important messages, like application and scholarship deadlines, don’t fall through the cracks, use one email address for all college communications. (Pro tip: Consider creating a joint account with your parents, guardian or support system so all communications go to the same, centralized inbox.)
Visit once. Visit often. College campuses, and the cities they’re located in, look and feel different at various points of the year. Try to visit schools you’re interested in more than once. Visit formally through the admission office, or simply make plans to attend an event, meet a coach or professor, or just explore the campus and nearby community on your own or with your family. Check out the local tourism and visitors bureaus, like Experience Columbus, to get a feel for the community that will be your home for the next four years – maybe longer if an internship turns into a job after you graduate.
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Embrace the new. Control the things you can. Don’t sweat the rest. You’re on the cusp of a new point in your life. Embrace the uncertainty. You’re not supposed to have all the answers. That’s what learning is all about. Worry about the things you can control – your grades, your experiences, your time, your relationships, your choices – and release the things outside of your control. Acknowledge every single emotion you are feeling and be hopeful about the journey you are about to embark on.
Practice gratitude. Thank your family. This is a new experience for them too! They are feeling every emotion that you are. And then some. Be sure to show gratitude to the people who got you this far, and who will continue to have your back through your senior year and during your transition to college.
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Be 100% you and stay authentically you. This is a time where people of all walks of life gather together with the same goal in mind — graduating. This is your time to make your own path and be 100% you. Don’t change because the best you is inside of you. Don’t let anyone change that. If you are in the process of finding yourself, then search and understand who you are. Get a better sense of yourself.
Explore. College is the best time to explore as much as you can. It is a time of independence. There are many majors and minors to choose from. In addition to your education, there are also a lot of clubs and organizations that you can join. Find what you like and what you don’t. Find a different interest and take time to see what you truly love to do. Get out of your comfort zone. This is you time to shine. Try new things. Explore, explore and explore some more.
Ask a lot of Questions. When you are exploring and trying to make decisions, you are going to have a lot of questions. My best advice is ask them all! Even if you think it is the weirdest or craziest question, ask it! College is a new journey and a lot of information is given to you at one time. Process what you hear, and when something doesn’t make sense, ask. If something is unclear, just ask. The worst thing is regretting not asking a question.
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Make a “must-have” checklist and question list for college visits. You may not know exactly what you’re looking for in a college yet, but think about what is most important to you for your education. Is it location or distance from home? Class sizes? Internship opportunities? Sports? Tutoring services? Consider what you need to be successful and write it down or save a note in your phone so you can take your “must-have list” with you on college visits. Based on that checklist, add some questions that you’ll want to ask admission counselors or tour guides to figure out if a college has what you need. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for must-haves or questions to ask, reach out to your family or school staff for their advice—or do a quick Google search!
Prepare for college essays. When school starts, you’ll be busy with academic and extracurricular activities, so summer is the perfect time to start working on those college and scholarship application essays! Planning out how you’ll address common essay questions will save you a lot of time during the school year. Think about your greatest academic and extracurricular achievements, obstacles you’ve faced and how you overcame them, and what you want admission staff and scholarship review committees to know about who you are and who you want to become. Draft some initial responses, proofread and revise them, and share them with people you trust to give you constructive feedback to make your writing stronger!
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Have safe, fun and adventurous summer, and as always, please contact us and connect with us if you want to learn more about Capital University.